Percussionist Jamie Muir was a member of King Crimson during the recording of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, in 1973. Staying less than a year with Robert Fripp, the Scot had already cut his teeth with another master guitarist, Derek Bailey, as part of the Music Improvisation Company, along with Evan Parker, Hugh Davies and Christine Jeffrey, whose eponymous 1970 album was one of the first releases on ECM. Muir and Bailey recorded Dart Drug eleven years later, in 1981.
There’s no shortage of great percussionists in the brief history of free improvised music but on the strength of Dart Drug alone Jamie Muir deserves a place at High Table. Unlike for example Han Bennink and John Stevens, though, you can’t hear echoes of any particular jazz drummer in Muir’s playing, even if he has expressed appreciation for Milford Graves (who himself sounded like nobody else who’d come before him).
Dart Drug is consistently thrilling, and often very amusing – but it’s certainly not easy listening.
“The way to discover the undiscovered in performing terms is to immediately reject all situations as you identify them (the cloud of unknowing) – which is to give music a future.” Bailey evidently concurred with this spoken statement by Muir, including it in his book Improvisation. Derek Bailey is no longer with us, of course, and Muir gave up performing music back in 1989. All the more reason for seeking out this magnificent, wild album.